They Might Be Giants (Kid’s show) – November 28, 2009
As the 9:30 club house music unceremoniously switched off and the crowd was plunged into complete darkness before They Might Be Giants starts their set, the familiar mix of anxiety and joy that accompanies the start of every concert came over me. In those still moments in the dark, I glanced around at the toddlers and four year olds, juice boxes in hand, who also came to the “family show” of TMBG with their parents. Before I could wonder if the kids felt the same way about the concert as I did, John Flansburgh, John Linnell, and the rest of the band are already on the stage and all thoughts were blasted from my mind. The band didn’t even stop to catch the screams of the kids, jumping right into their set as they grab their instruments. They started “Hot Dog,” their theme song for Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse, and if I strained my ears I could hear tiny voices singing along with the lyrics. They Might Be Giant’s skills in sing-a-long ear candy is legendary, they’ve written theme songs for Malcolm in the Middle, The Daily Show, and countless commercials but, as I much as I liked singing along with Mickey Mouse, I became worried that TMBG might only do their kiddie stuff.
My fear was put to rest as they launched into “813 Mile Car Trip,” a fast-paced, drum-driven song off their kids album, “Here Come the 123’s.” Despite the “kiddie” branded albums, TMBG have always managed to put an adult sense of humor and sharp wit in all their songs. After a brief ballad questioning “Where Do they Make Balloons,” the tell-tale bass line of “Roy G. Biv” rumbled across the audience. Immediately, I beamed at my friend Daniel Hull and we screamed the chorus in time with the band. As silly as it seems to look forward to a song about the colors of the rainbow, I doubt anyone could resist singing along to John Flansburgh’s catchy ditty about an elf that lives in rainbows. The band followed up with “Older,” in which they stated that “you’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older,” and then segued into “Seven.” As John Linnell sang his problems with “Seven”, the whole club screamed that they wanted cake, in accordance with the chorus. Every TMBG show has high-energy and off-kilter humor and this one was no different, with hundreds of kids, adults, and a few teenagers yelling “Cake! Cake! We want Cake!”
After the giggles had died down and the band relaxed, I was surprised to see Flansburgh and Linnell leave the stage. Suddenly, the stage lights were shut down, a screen was lowered, and a projector turned on. I was momentarily confused on what was going on but laughed as two giant puppets with the voices of John Flansburgh and John Linnell introduced themselves as the “Avatars of They” on the screen. A puppet show in the middle of a rock band is something that is only considered normal at a TMBG concert. The puppets joked around, saying that TMBG eat all their food backstage, and burst into “A Shooting Star.” Despite the puppet’s lack of lips, the completely a capella song was a sound and sight to behold. The puppets harmonized beautifully, staying one step ahead or behind each other as the disco ball hidden in the ceiling projected “stars” onto the crowd. I could hear the small “ohhhs” and “awws” from the kids behind me and knew that this would be an experience that they, like me, would remember for a long time.